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English still a great system

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Hi, I have been thinking about a switch from English to duet concertina but am now questioning those thoughts. I currently play a 56 key extended treble and part of the desire to switch was the high squeaky notes and the desire for more low drone notes. Most of the music I play on concertina includes folk/dance music and some easy versions of classical pieces and once-in-a-while I experiment with songs. I have realized for a while that I could use some notes lower than G so I could make peace with my voice and the songs. I have thought about a baritone concertina but worry about loss of speed with the dance music. (I don't have a baritone so I don't know that I would actually see a loss of speed-but I worry anyway.) So...when I look at various duet concertinas, I see some lower notes such as on a Tenor range English, and I see high squeakers that I don't need. Now I am thinking that a concertina similar to the geordie would grant me lower notes for some chords and drones without too many high notes and I would have the benefit of sticking with a system that I already know how to play, which would mean that perhaps I don't need to switch from English to duet.


So my question for English concertina players is: What are the pros of choosing between tenor or baritone ranges for music ranging from songs to fiddle tunes? ( Oh, I no longer have a great need to play as fast as I can, I hope to learn to play with more sensitivity to support the song or melody)


Thank you! Eric in Montana

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I'm regularly using a baritone for tune playing to get a bit more separation between myself and the other melody instruments in bands and sessions. Fiddles, flutes, many (but not all) melodeons, etc all tend to be in the same octave as the treble concertina - switching to baritone takes me an octave lower, giving a bit more breadth and depth to the overall sound, particularly when I'm playing countermelody or simple chords.



There also seems to be a big move in the last few years to label the baritone as the best range for, and sometimes even only really suitable for, accompanying song (although the reeds on a good one like the Geordie speak plenty quick enough for most tunes played below hardcore fastest-wins speed-merchant tempo); which I guess is down to the same reason, e.g. giving more separation between the voice and the accompaniment.



I nearly choked on my cornflakes at your thread title by the way, and was all ready to fire off a huge 'Yes of course English is still a great system, what kind of close-minded idiot suggests anything else' rant - but no need when I actually read your post :)





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A tennor would normally give you four extra notes at the low end, as in down to C below middle C. A Baritone would go down to the G an octave below the bottom G of the Treble. There are other combinations and variations and less or more notes lost at the top end.


I have no experience of the modern Hybrids that offer these lower ranges. In the traditional Concertinas I would suggest getting an 'up market' model if you are going to go down to Tennor and Baritone. Tennor/ Treble is very popular because you will loose no speed and there are many more of these about so prices should be sensible.


There are Baritone range instruments, like the one currently for sale on the buy and sell forum, which has the range of your Extended Treble but each note is an octave lower; you might find this to be slower, or appear to be, because for the same fingering you are playing an octave down and the larger reeds will take more air and the larger crossesctional area of the instrument will need more pressure applied to it. With a good instrument this apparent loss of speed will be minimal and perhaps more than compensated for by those lovely low notes.


Then there are Baritone/Treble range instruments; these are like Tennor/Trebles but will go down an extra row of buttons, the lowest note being an octave below the Treble (usually a G or F). With the Baritone/Treble the normal 'treble' fingering will produce the same pitches as a Treble, and in a good instrument these will come at the same speed as a Treble. So, these are like playing a Treble but the keyboard extends downwards a further octave.


With either Baritone type it is possible to play 'fiddle' tunes an octave below the fiddle, which is a nice thing to do if you also have a fiddler to play with. I used to do this in a partial way with a Tennor/Treble but now I use a Baritone/Treble for this. Playing at normal pitch and then droping down an octave can be very effective in a session or group . You need to practice playing tunes in different octaves, of course, which would not be necessary if you had a normal Baritone which gave the octave down note at the same fingering as a Treble.


I use my Baritone/Treble for Clasical music pieces and more complex arrangements of any type but I have used it for Irish session playing. Mine has the same range as a 56 extended Treble but one octave lower.

I would suggest keeping your Treble and adding a Baritone to your stable... the Geordie or one of the other Hybrids need not break the bank.


With a Duet you would need one of the bigger instruments to get a range down to an octave below the Treble EC.

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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[With the Baritone/Treble the normal 'treble' fingering will produce the same pitches as a Treble, and in a good instrument these will come at the same speed as a Treble. So, these are like playing a Treble but the keyboard extends downwards a further octave.]


this is what i would love to have. i often call this a "baritone 48." my needs would require a fast, loud, bright (preferably metal-ended) one that is very able for dance and band music. i personally wouldn't need the lowest-lowest notes for much beyond short, light touches of bass-vamping in tango, musette, etc. but baritone-trebles are thin on the ground.


i've been investigating this the last couple of weeks. the thing about the Geordie, (and I think the soon-forthcoming Wakker hybrid baritone) is that they are only 45, not 48. they only go up to "A." for me, in order for this wonderful baritone-treble config to work its magic to the full, you really, really need that high "B." hey, and the high "B-Flat." i guess some folks might be willing to dispense with "high C," but the high "B" is rampant in folk music. the Geordie costs nearly $3,000, which is too much for me to invest and only get the "A." Geuns makes a baritone 48 (baritone-treble) hybrid, but with the exchange rate it costs $4,600. So I am either going to order a baritone-treble from Wim Wakker. or I am going to give up on the "baritone-treble" and go for a vintage TT or something like that (and am actually seriously eyeing something close to that config right now). of course, one would like both, but.... :rolleyes:

Edited by ceemonster
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